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Prior to the big move in the summer of 2016 — following my father’s pressing military orders to Japan — I was a very busy middle schooler, with hobbies such as playing soccer and making Rainbow Loom bracelets in my bedroom. In between all of my activities, I was also consumed by worry — always wondering how other people perceived me and always torturing myself to be something they liked.
Fashion and clothes have always been a form of self-expression that’s integral to my identity. I dress primarily for myself to communicate a sense of who I am to those around me. I cast aside all of the possible perceptions and expectations from others when I choose what to wear — with clothes, I’ve gained a sense of freedom to express myself.
Journaling has been a hobby of mine since the early days of middle school and has never failed to assist me in caring for my mental health. My main objective in journaling is to reflect on my experiences, feelings and self through deconstructing my thoughts and allowing my ideas to flow out onto the page as they come to me — there is no specific structure or “right way” to journal. I find there is nothing more soothing and rewarding than sitting down to reflect on the happenings of my day, week or month in my journal.
I was first introduced to social media, or more specifically Instagram, by one of my friends in the fourth grade. It’s crazy to think how long ago I entered the digital world, and how my Instagram profile has since evolved. My username, “@ellanator9,” has remained the same for my account’s entire existence, but the rest of my profile has drastically changed from the type of posts I share, to how I communicate using the app and my feelings surrounding social media use.
Nobody ever fully grows up — in the sense that we all have kid-like desires no matter how old we are. In our youthful years of discovering our interests and desires, we are often drawn towards activities that help shape our identity. Novelty items like stuffed animals and Legos with which we grow up playing have become trendy and collectible nowadays, making them desirable for all ages.
Ah, college! It’s a breath of fresh air to take this first lone step out into the world. It’s an introduction to freedom and individual decision-making, but it also becomes a challenging time of figuring out a new way of living in a new environment. I initially had a hard time thinking of Charlottesville as my home, which was a familiar experience after moving to Okinawa, Japan for a period of time with my family.
I experience a range of feelings at the beginning of a new school year. Anxiety for the workload, excitement to reunite with friends and worry for the great mountain of responsibility underway with new classes beginning. At the base of this mountain of responsibility, I believe rests society’s expectation of individuals to maintain a steady flow of productivity, even during times meant for rest and recuperation.
One huge reason I wanted to come to the University was because of the beautiful scenery surrounding Grounds. Despite the University being academically challenging, I’m able to find solace in many places and moments that are created by the beauty of not only the natural world around me, but the community I surround myself with.
A big switch I’ve made recently in terms of my daily routine is transitioning from always taking night showers to becoming a professed morning showerer. In the midst of the hot steamy debate surrounding which is better, I have to say that, after trying both out for myself, I have to side with the morning showerers. I can’t completely tell you why I decided to make this change at the beginning of the semester, but I’m so glad I did, and I won’t be going back to night showers any time soon.
It’s hard to imagine my world without music. I like to keep my brain buzzed and my mind alive with the constant flow of melodies and rhythms — it provides a soundtrack to my life. Whether I’m playing my “On the Town,” playlist while walking to class or cruising down the street with my favorite indie anthem blasting, music is an experience that encapsulates much of what I value and may effectively preserve time, as it revives forgotten memories from any given moment and prompts nostalgic reflection.
Every morning I wake up and ponder what to wear. Not because I don’t have anything, but because I have everything to wear. I hold a personal connection with each clothing item which has been hand-selected from the thrift store and added to my closet.